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The ALA Ignores the S.F. Marriott Boycott

Date: 02/17 9:48 AM
February 14, 2001

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

You may be aware that the American Library Association has chosen to use the San Francisco Marriott (Moscone Center, downtown) as its headquarters hotel for the upcoming conference in June. The ALA Executive Board is aware that they may be forcing you to cross picket lines and patronize corporate lawbreakers, even though they were fully aware of the situation when they signed their contract with the hotel back in 1997. This was done after we had demonstrated at the hotel during the ALA convention that same year!

We are asking for your help in pressuring ALA to move its headquarters to another hotel and cancel all events held there. The San Francisco Marriott is the site of the largest and longest running labor dispute in the city. In 1980, when Marriott was allowed to develop this hotel on city land, one of the city's major conditions was that Marriott would not actively oppose unionization. However, in 1989 when the hotel opened, Marriott reneged on that agreement.

Nevertheless, in 1996, a majority of Marriott employees chose the union. Since then, over 120 negotiation sessions have taken place. Months of escalating and continuous actions culminated in a 2-day strike in July 2000. There are regular and ongoing demonstrations. In addition, the National Labor Relations Board, an agency of the Federal Government, is prosecuting Marriott for just under 100 labor law violations including:

- illegally firing workers supportive of the union
- discriminatorily denying wage and benefit increases to employees represented by the union
- bargaining in "bad faith"

This past Labor Day, 800 Marriott workers and community supporters, joined by religious and community leaders, demonstrated outside Marriott to launch the boycott. Mayor Willie Brown, members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, President Pro Tem of the California State Senate John Burton, California State Assembly member Carole Migden, and Assembly Majority Leader Kevin Shelley, were there to publicly endorse the boycott.

A number of statements about the Marriott labor dispute and boycott were incorrect in the ALA fact sheet. They are as follows:

  1. ALA factsheet: There is NO ongoing strike against the Marriott: a two day workstoppage last summer was not well supported by the restaurant employees.

    Local 2: The Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union represents 925 room cleaners, dishwashers, bellmen, phone operators, and room service workers in addition to restaurant workers at the Marriott. During the two-day strike last July, over 75 percent of Marriott workers participated. Each and every day there is an ongoing boycott against Marriott endorsed by the Mayor Willie Brown and members of the SF Board of Supervisors.

  2. ALA: Many of these (Unfair Labor Practices) have been dismissed by the National Labor Relations Board. There has been no finding by the NLRB that Marriott has acted unlawfully.

    Local 2: The NLRB's prosecution of the Marriott was ready to go to trial January 29, 2001. Over 80 workers are prepared to testify on almost 100 separate violations of the law. Marriott's lawyers responded by filing motions to delay the trial. The NLRB, a branch of the Federal Government, is seeking the most extreme penalty allowed by law.

    The intermittent picketing usually occurs for an hour to an hour and one-half on Thursdays and/or Fridays. Last Sunday and Monday, February 4th and 5th, over 1300 people composed of Marriott workers, hotel workers from throughout the city, and community supporters demonstrated in front the Marriott continuously from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. both days.

  3. ALA: Marriott representatives have informed ALA that they hope to have a signed union contract before June.

    Local 2: Marriott's behavior shows no indication that they are interested in signing a contract.

  4. ALA: Due to the size of ALA conferences, they can only be held in a limited number of cities, and the hotels and convention centers in these cities are subject to union action at any time.

    Local 2: In San Francisco, virtually all large hotels are under a five-year union contract until August 2004 and the union is prohibited from picketing or striking until the contract expires. The only hotel you will find prone to strikes or picketing during the ALA convention is at the Moscone Center Marriott.

Join us in pressuring ALA to fix their error and make it possible for all of us to attend ALA conference sessions without crossing a picket line.

Adelaide Chen, Marriott Boycott Coordinator
HERE, Local 2
San Francisco
415.864.8770 ext. 751

Librarians' Caucus
SEIU, Local 790
San Francisco/Oakland
(c/o Andrea Grimes, SFPL

P.S. Spread the word and this letter: Boycott Marriott!

In solidarity,
Andrea Grimes

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